Wakefield Market demolition plan - council says it needs more time to listen to traders

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Almost 1,600 people have signed a petition against plans to demolish Wakefield Market to make way for a cinema development.

The petition was handed to Denise Jeffery, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for economic growth, before a meeting of the council’s cabinet this morning.

Traders collected 1,576 signatures after being told a week ago of a proposal by Sovereign Land, one of the owners of the Trinity Walk shopping centre, to turn the site into a multi-screen cinema with restaurant and cafe units.

A report to the meeting recommended that the council went ahead with negotiations for the closure, sale, demolition and redevelopment of the market, which opened in 2008.

But councillors passed a revised recommendation that an eight-week consultation is held with traders to consider the proposal in more detail before a decision is made.

Coun Jeffery said there would be more time to listen to traders and address their concerns.

She told the meeting: “I have just received a petition this morning from traders. There is very strong feeling about this.

“We have already met traders last week and there is another meeting tonight. We have to make sure that things are done in the proper manner.”

The cabinet report said the market, which opened in 2008, had struggled to attract enough shoppers and traders, despite rents and licence fees being subsidised by the council.

The market lost £126,000 in 2012-13 and was forecast to lose more money the following year.

If the plan goes ahead, indoor traders will be invited to apply to move into shop units elsewhere in the city centre, and a new outdoor market would be held in the Cathedral precinct and on Teall Street.

Coun Jeffery said: “I’m afraid we can’t continue to run a market at a loss.”

The petition was presented to Coun Jeffery by market traders Carol Feather and Deborah Burnley.

After the meeting Mrs Feather said: “The response has been really good. If they shut the market that will be the wrong decision. They should put more into it to make it a better market.”